Established in Ohio during the early nineteenth century, the Hicks Settlement, which eventually became known as the Stillguest Settlement, was a predominantly African American community.
Located in Ross County, the Hicks Settlement was located six miles to the northwest of Chillicothe. The community was named for Tobias Hicks, a former slave from Maryland, who settled in the area circa 1800. Eventually, a large number of African Americans, including many former slaves, arrived in the community, finding employment principally as farmers.
Upon Tobias Hicks's death, the community was renamed the Stillguest Settlement, in honor of Joseph Stillguest. Stillguest was a runaway slave. Tobias Hicks adopted Stillguest, raising him as his own son. Stillguest served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and also opened his home to runaway slaves. He eventually moved to Urbana, Ohio, where he continued his Underground Railroad activities.
The Stillguest Settlement remained a vibrant community until the early 1900s. By this time, the settlement lost its identity as a separate community for African Americans. With whites increasingly showing African Americans tolerance, many African Americans began to find acceptance in traditionally white communities.
Despite the growing opposition to slavery by some whites during the early 1800s, communities such as the Stillguest Settlement illustrate the prejudice that existed in Ohio during the years before the American Civil War. Ohio was a state that did not allow slavery. Nevertheless, that did not mean that whites were open to granting African Americans equal rights. Free African Americans found that it was difficult to get fair treatment, and they often formed their own communities away from whites for protection.
- Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.